Yet ERA proponents are attempting a comeback, circumventing the constitutional process, and seeking “ratification” by bogus means. The Virginia statehouse passed the ERA this week, claiming to be the final state needed for ratification. The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to pass a resolution purporting to go back in time to retroactively, and absurdly, change the deadline.
The first feminist suffragists proposed an equal rights amendment, but would disavow today’s ERA because they saw abortion as trampling on the rights of the unborn and degrading to women. These celebrated first-wave feminists from Mary Wollstonecraft to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton recognized that abortion was, in the words of their movement’s leader, Alice Paul, “the ultimate exploitation of women.” Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president (in 1872), declared with her sister and fellow feminist Tennessee Claflin that “pregnancy is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature.”